The home page repeatedly presents marketers with the greatest untapped performance enhancement opportunities for website marketing.
Yet systematically home pages are being under-prioritized and overlooked as part of the ‘business as usual’ marketing focus.
For most online businesses the home page takes on many roles and responsibilities.
A typical home page functions as the:
- Catch all for topics that are not effectively housed on the website
- Online entry page to the business and its services
- First point of contact between the company and its audience
- Content page, leading users to their destination
- Initial point of sale page and chance to convert
- Face of the brand and the people it represents
- Brand storytelling evangelist and spotlight for new and exciting updates
In this post, I share my top 10 frequently missed home page updates that demand consideration as part of a hard-working home page for any website.
#1 – Maximize the Conversion Potential
Most of your brand traffic will default to your home page as the website entry into the site.
Typically brand associated users will have lower barriers to conversion based on existing familiarity with the organization – this should be reflected in your home page contribution to sales.
Because of this, your home page has a huge potential to contribute more towards micro and macro goals completions for any website.
Practically speaking a home page can directly impact conversions to:
- Drive people into the most profitable user journeys
- Entice users to purchase before viewing other pages
- Showcase the highest revenue-driving products and services
- Reinforce trust, expertise, and security
- Tell people to buy
#2 – Include SEO Best Practices
The home page should be one of the most optimized pages on your website.
Along with the top service or category level pages, the website home page can make or break online marketing results.
For an estimated average, you can expect Organic Search to provide between 35-60 percent of your core website metrics (from visibility and traffic through to sales and revenue).
There are varied SEO approaches to take with a home page, and ultimately they will be connected to specific business goals and objectives.
The following are a few of the more common and repeatable SEO focus areas applicable to most website approaches:
- Ensure the page content reflects your audience search behavior
- Provide clear and intuitive navigation
- Use supporting visual content
- Take time over the basics (including metadata) as they make a big impact
- Use CTAs and links sparingly – be clear on what you want the user think and do
- Think about pre-scroll information and insights
#3 – Provide a Technically Effective Experience
This covers the industry and wider online community expectations for performance, as well as a technical experience that is of superior quality to your direct competition.
Your home page needs to work perfectly well regardless of device, screen size, Internet connection (speed/quality), and volume of concurrent users.
Added to this, the home page should be free of broken links, slow-loading content elements, and provide fast time to first byte and meaningful interaction.
#4 Deliver a Secure Website
Security would not be restricted to your home page, this would be present on the site in its entirety.
Over 50% of websites globally are now delivering secure HTTPS websites, and this is not an optional consideration for websites any longer.
The added layer of encryption with HTTPS establishes trust from the outset and supports the conversion potential from the home page before the user needs to take any other action or engagement with the website.
If you are looking to migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS all URLs (including items like CSS) need to be placed on the secure (HTTPS) version of the site.
You will need to 301 redirect all URLs and create a new Google Search Console (GSC) account as well as keeping the previous version active to catch any migration issues and updates required.
Your Google Analytics (GA) account can simply be updated to the new website URL/protocol.
#5 – Increase Content Understanding
As the home page can take on a number of fragmented roles, it is necessary to remove any ambiguity tied to the content positioning and understanding.
Actions you can take to support this understanding include:
- Adding structured data to relevant content types (such as company reviews)
- Ensuring visual content includes alt text, titles, and descriptive files names
- Make content readable for search engines (for example using CSS to overlay text content rather than embed it within images)
- Optimize headings so they reflect search and user intent and are written for people (rather than for search engines/machines)
- Follow a logical content structure and framework for the page and ensure every element of the page has a clear purpose
#6 – Iteratively Test and Refine
The home page should be consistently A/B tested as part of ‘business as usual’ marketing and website priorities.
As the page drives most website entry sessions, it is logical that the focus should include refining the value derived from the page with data-led updates.
There are many tools including free versions such as HotJar which can provide screen session recording and heatmaps ideal for action-taking.
Google Optimize is another freely available option for setting and running your A/B tests on the home page (or other pages on the website). With this tool, you can also avoid developer time on testing change by using the Optimize interface and clickable updates to test impact before rolling it out permanently.
#7 – Don’t Overlook the Basics
The home page needs to tell people who you are, what you do, and why that matters.
This message should be easy to find, understand, and effectively pitched to your audience before you can expect a user to take any further action.
Home pages without clarity on salient points such as this, often pogo-stick people back to the SERPs.
You should leave nothing to chance with this important page.
Do not fall into the trap of assuming someone landing on your site has any preconceived notion of your business, your differentiation, or any related insight.
Keep it simple stupid (KISS) is a well-quoted approach for the mentality on this action point.
#8 – Spend Time Optimising the Navigation
A home page must lead people through the site quickly and intuitively.
The main navigation needs to be logically organized, reflective of user click patterns and giving users immediate access to business-critical content.
The terms used within the navigation should reflect the intent and search behavior of the user.
Any items within the navigation which are not 100% required should be considered for removal.
As with all core areas on the website (and the home page specifically), it is necessary to continuously refine and iteratively improve the navigation using data to drive hypothesis testing and updates made.
Supporting navigational areas of the home page should also have clarity of purpose and verification of performance.
#9 – Tell People What They Are Expected to do Next
In most instances, people landing on your home page have not found what they are looking for yet.
Whether this is a product, service, blog post, white paper, or social media proof, you need to use the home page to lead people onto their next intended action fast.
Actions to facilitate this includes:
- Being direct with CTAs
- Repeating core messaging
- Reflecting the main user flows/journeys from your home page content
- Minimizing distractions
- Choosing contrasting colors for key points and action taking
- Summarise main messaging with bullet points
#10 – Master the Balance Between Design and Marketing
Often recommendations from one marketing channel can directly conflict with the goals and outcomes of others – commonly this includes creative and design.
This does not need to be the case, and in most instances integrating channels during the planning and analysis phases of work, overcome this well before any output stage.
Placing emphasis on data over perception, and best practice over subjectivity also helps.
It is also useful to practically agree on the home page design fundamentals such as:
- Not having white/light text on closely matched backgrounds
- Ensuring accessibility and mobile-friendly requirements are adhered to
- Less is more (for text, images, the volume of competing elements per segment)
- Use active whitespace
- Try to avoid using distractions on the page including pop-ups or other items acting as barriers to the user end point